Aussie actress surprised to land coveted priestess role
DESPITE her screen career accelerating at a rapid pace, Elizabeth Debicki was surprised to land a role in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy sequel. Guardians is arguably the hottest title in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, blending intergalactic battles with acerbic humour and a classic rock soundtrack.
“I completely didn’t expect it,” Debicki says.
“I loved the first movie. I thought it was hilarious and clever and heart-warming. And I loved the characters. I had spoken to James Gunn a few times. He’s a lovely man and a brilliant director, so I was just so happy to be involved.”
The enigmatic Australian actress – best known for her roles in The Great Gatsby, The Kettering Incident and, most recently, The Night Manager – plays Ayesha, the golden high priestess of the newly introduced Sovereign Planet.
“She’s a very powerful woman within this planet,” she says.
“She runs everything with an iron fist. Her people are a genetically engineered race of aliens, and they’re all gold and perfect and wanting to be physically and mentally impeccable. Ayesha has hired the Guardians to protect the planet’s precious batteries from an inter-dimensional beast.”
Set to the new sonic backdrop of an “awesome” new mix tape, Guardians Vol 2 continues the team’s adventures as they traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos.
The Guardians must fight to keep their new-found family together as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) true parentage.
It’s fair to say Debicki’s goddess-like character looks down her nose at the rag-tag team, and particularly at accidental hero Quill – aka “Star Lord”.
“Because the Sovereign think they are so superior, they’re highly judgmental of anyone,” she says.
“Everybody, as far as they’re concerned, is sort of inbred and disgusting and filthy and sort of scraping the barrel. The great thing about the interchange with Quill is that Ayesha’s intrigued by him, but she’s repulsed by him at the same time. Even though she feels that they’re inferior and disgusting, she still thinks he’s really good looking. That leads to an interesting exchange.”
Debicki’s all-gold costume is a striking new look for the franchise’s expanding cast of characters and worlds.
“Our costume designer managed to create a look that I’ve never seen before on screen. It’s very Elizabethan. Like an Elizabethan queen, she’s untouchable in that dress,” she says.
“It’s a really interesting thing when costume informs your character so hugely. The restrictions in a costume like that, the corset element of it, the severity of the angles of it and even the weight of it, completely inform how you move because you can’t do certain things in it, which then indicates the type of person you are. When you think of the logic of that character, you wonder why she wears something like that. But it’s because she’s informing her people the type of queen she is. It completely changes your physicality.”
Debicki is full of praise for returning writer-director James Gunn, who stamped his unique style on the Marvel universe with the first film.
“The wonderful thing about working with James is that he is the writer and the director, so he is super spontaneous and flexible,” she says. “James just has this wicked sense of comic timing, and the comedy in his writing is so wonderful to work with as an actor. He really loves creating this universe. So there’s a sort of joy when you’re working on this set. It’s like a family. People are very chill and they love working together.” Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 opens on Tuesday.
◗ Elizabeth Debicki in a scene from Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 2.